Linden Gardens is closest you'll get to Eden in Kaleden

The name “Kaleden” derives in part from the Biblical Garden of Eden. The “Kal” comes from the Greek “kalos” for “beautiful.”

The closest you’ll come to the Garden of Eden in this community is Linden Gardens, a nine-acre, idyllic, flowering corner of paradise overlooking Skaha Lake.

Linden Gardens was created by Ken and Margaret Hayter, who decided in 2002 to get out of apple farming and, inspired by Brian Minter, to develop a garden instead.

“We were pretty tired of fruit farming, so we were looking for something new to do,” explains Ken. “We were listening to Brian Minter on the radio. We thought, oh wow, he had a garden. Maybe we should have one.”

Minter, a gardening guru, ran a gardening store and show garden near Chilliwack. The store is still there, but the garden closed in 2013.

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Ken and Margaret Hayter are the long-time owners and operators of Linden Gardens in Kaleden. (Richard McGuire Photo)
This pond makes a scenic backdrop for event photographs. It's also a quiet spot to appreciate the beauty of nature. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Ken grew up in Kaleden. Margaret’s family came there from Didsbury, Alberta in 1968. Together they farmed fruit, mainly apples, for about 30 years before opening their garden.

Turning an orchard into a garden isn’t something achieved overnight. It took them five years to remove fruit trees and plant trees and perennials – one or two acres at a time. When they opened to the public in May 2007, the garden was still a work in progress.

“It still wasn’t very mature in 2007, but we were kind of broke,” admits Ken. “So you’ve got to be selling something.”

Along with the gardens, they also opened the Frog City Café, a mainstay of the business ever since.

Many guests come for lunch at the Frog City Café, whether or not they visit the gardens. (Denise Blashko photos)

Besides the café, the business has become a venue for weddings and celebrations of life among the gardens. And many families and individuals visit, sometimes with season passes, to enjoy the flowers that change throughout the spring, summer and early fall.

The setting doesn’t have the look of an overly manicured garden. Rather, as you walk its forested trails, or sit in the grassy areas used for weddings, it has a natural feel. But the many blooming colourful flowers make it obvious that maintaining this paradise is a lot of work.

“We work seven days a week,” says Ken, correcting himself to clarify that he and Margaret, both 70, now just work on the nice days. “We’re getting old, so we’ll work every day that is nice out here.”

They’ve contracted out some of the work. They lease the Frog City Café to a younger couple who have made it a popular lunch spot with a wholesome menu. The Hayters work with a wedding planner, and a nephew handles the wedding logistics. Ken and Margaret now focus on gardening, which is what they do best.

“Margaret and I are the most efficient at gardening,” says Ken, adding that this eliminates the need to hire gardeners.

Banana plants give a tropical feel as they grow around a small pond at Linden Gardens. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The garden itself has changed considerably over the years. At first, the Hayters planted fast-growing trees like willows and poplars because they needed them as background. Over time, these have been replaced with long-term trees such as oaks, maples and walnuts.

They even plant banana trees annually, keeping the smaller ones in a greenhouse over winter. The giant banana leaves surround a pond, giving it a tropical feel.

They started out mostly growing perennial flowers, but in more recent years they’ve also been planting annuals to bring a burst of colour to the gardens in months like July and August when fewer perennials bloom.

“[The annuals] just augment the areas that need a little bit of spicing up when you run out of perennial bloom,” explains Ken.

Linden Gardens in Kaleden is a sea of colour that changes through the seasons. It's popular as a backdrop for weddings, or just a stroll in the beauty. (Richard McGuire Photo)

There are always flowers blooming, from before they open for the season on the first weekend of May, until after they close at the beginning of October. Ken describes the highlights of different months.

First to bloom are flowering cherries, followed by rhododendrons and then roses. These make the beginning of the season the nicest time to visit.

“That’s absolutely the best because everything’s fresh,” says Ken. “All the leaves are fresh, all the flowers are fresh, and they haven’t had to go through heat and smoke, so it’s all brand-new.”

They plant impatiens when the season opens and these bloom until freeze up.

“They’re spectacular,” says Ken. “And we have a full set of geraniums, we’ve got a full set of hibiscus.”

Other popular plants include sedums and hydrangeas, which bloom later in the summer. Daylilies and Asian lilies also add to the mix. The daylilies are hardier, and they bloom for longer, while the Asian lilies are more sensitive, but when they bloom, they are spectacular.

A pavilion provides a pleasant seating area for guests at special events. (Richard McGuire Photo)

While the gardens stay open throughout the entire season, Ken admits that August has become a challenging month because of the wildfire season. Many festivals are moving away from scheduling in August because of the uncertainty, he said, and for the same reason, people are now hesitant to schedule weddings in August.

Instead, they now tend to plan weddings in May to July and again in September.

“They’re darn scared of August,” says Ken.

Still, thanks to the number of blooming annuals, August can still be a pleasant time for more spontaneous visits by families and individuals.

The Frog City Café offers a menu of healthy and yummy food and guests can eat indoors or outside. (Denise Blashko photos)

The casual clientele at Linden Gardens covers the gamut from tourists to families with children.

“We get people from all over the world here,” says Ken.

Linden Gardens also keeps animals which are of special interest to children. Although Ken and Margaret would like to have a petting zoo, insurance requirements have made that impractical.

Still, children (and adults) can look at the animals through their fenced enclosures – chickens, goats, rabbits and pigs.

“They all have personalities, whether it’s chickens, bunnies or goats,” says Ken.

Linden Gardens keeps a number of animals, including these pigs. They are an attraction, especially for young visitors. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The business is not a huge moneymaker because of taxes and insurance, Ken says, but with their passion for gardening, they’re happy with the way it is.

“We expect to do this until we’re in our 80s,” says Ken. “That was the plan. You’ve got to have something to do. We get bored real easy… As long as our health is good, we’re good to work in our 80s.”

Story and photographs by Richard McGuire, additional photography Denise Blashko

Linden Gardens and the Frog City Café

351 Linden Avenue

Kaleden, BC  V0H 1K0